Eat Yourself Fitter

A Viva Energy and Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics campaign is helping over 1000 drivers boost wellbeing and safety.

Life as a fleet driver – particularly long haul – poses both physical and mental health challenges.

Hours of sedentary driving followed by intense bursts of heavy lifting. Delivery schedules that may require driving through the night.

Isolation and loneliness due to extended time away from home. It’s taxing work that requires nutritional food, but it’s a challenge to maintain a healthy diet on the road.

Quick-grab options like meat pies and fries are often the default go-to.

Viva Energy and Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics have teamed up to tackle the issue head-on with the Fuel Your Body campaign.

Emma Stuart, Group Health, Safety, Security, and Environment Manager at Viva Energy, has been working closely with leading fleet organisations, so she sees the challenges faced by drivers first-hand.

“Because they’re on the move and the hours they’re doing, it’s difficult to prepare and take food with them,” she says. “Food sources along freight routes may be limited, particularly for long haul drivers. If you compare the fast food and convenience foods against the range of choices most of us get to make everyday, it’s no wonder eating can be a trap.”

Emma says the stereotypical driver lifestyle is not promoting heart health and good choices.

“Drivers are sitting for long periods of time,” she says. “They’re not getting access to the right foods in a consistent way. This impacts cholesterol, rates of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. It really ups the health risks for drivers.”

Research into the field suggests healthier drivers are also safer drivers. The personal wellbeing of the drivers isn’t the only consideration. Looking after drivers, in general terms, often correlates to a safer transport environment for all.

“Safe driving is a huge consideration because our drivers are driving around tankers full of fuel. There’s nothing more important than them being well rested and physically well to do that task,” says Emma. “A lot of support through the pandemic has been around mental wellbeing. It’s critical for drivers to have their head in the game in a job that has some risk.”

The focus is also on improving physical health via nutrition.

What drivers eat impacts their sleep and energy levels and reduces the risk of health episodes like heart attack or stroke behind the wheel.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and related supply chain pressures have added new demands to the existing challenges of fleet driving. According to Emma, some drivers have left the industry because of these pressures, which in turn puts more pressure on the drivers who remain.

“There’s been a real shift – the pandemic has been a wake-up call for drivers for their physical and mental health,” she says. “The last few years have dramatically changed what is important to people. Five years ago, it would have been a real struggle to have this conversation. But the conversation has changed, and so have attitudes. People are more interested in looking after themselves.”

Viva Energy and Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics have partnered on the Fuel Your Body campaign to keep the conversation around healthy eating going.

The Fuel your Body campaign provides Scott’s drivers with support and education to empower them to make healthier choices on the road according to Ammie Ballard, Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics Head of Health and Wellbeing.

“At Scott’s we have taken a holistic approach to supporting improved health and wellbeing for our people through our health and wellbeing framework,” she says. “This framework encourages our people to care for their minds, their bodies, and our workplaces, ultimately, we aim to create a culture of care, happier and more engaged employees who are able to have longevity in their roles throughout their career.”

The campaign forms one part of the foundation in what is a holistic and ongoing series of initiatives and changes to inform and support drivers in accessing healthier meals on the road at the company.

Over 1000 cooler bags containing nutritious foods were packed for drivers.

“With the commencement of this program, we have concurrently begun providing healthier food options in our depots, driver rest and accommodation areas,” says Ammie. “Our employees will have opportunities to engage in one-on-one nutritional support and advice, meal plans and education around fuelling your body with the right types of food at the right time.”

The more Viva Energy can do to help promote good choices, the better, insists Emma.

“Fuel Your Body is aligned with our overall wellbeing strategy, which centres around three pillars: physical, emotional and social wellbeing,” she explains. “For physical wellbeing, our current focus is healthy eating and managing fatigue. These are all critical for fleet drivers.”

Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics was an obvious choice of partner for Emma, thanks, in part, to their industry reputation as being ahead of the game with worker health and wellbeing.

“Our goal is to build momentum throughout our driver community by highlighting and sharing driver feedback and positive examples of drivers prioritising their health and nutrition,” says Ammie, who foresees more fleets ready to become proactive when it comes to health initiatives for drivers.

“There are already great examples of where transport companies and industry partners are supporting drivers in this area, however there is still a lot of work to be done,” she says. “It really requires a whole of industry approach to achieve the desired change and to support our drivers in improving their health and wellbeing.”

There are, of course, other positives to be drawn from this. For one, it makes good business sense to support drivers to stay fit and well, and ensure, moreover, their longevity within the organisation.

“At Viva Energy, we’re very much driven by our people, too,” she says. “So it’s rewarding to run a campaign together where we can really focus on helping people to make safer, healthier choices.”

Fuel Your Body is about inspiring new healthy eating habits by providing cooler bags filled with healthy options to fuel drivers for the long haul. Nutritious foods available at servos and truck stops were chosen so drivers could refill their bags on the road.

“We packed over 1000 cooler bags full of nutritious foods like tins of tuna, microwavable rice cups, protein bars, plain popcorn and water bottles,” says Emma. “When you walk into servos you do see rows of chips and lollies – but these snack bags highlight that there are healthy choices to be found.”

In this respect, small changes can have a big impact on health. Fuel Your Body, as part of its aims, sets out to have a lasting effect by inspiring realistic but powerful changes to daily eating habits. Emma says if it feels like a chore, or deprivation, it won’t stick.

Choices must fit into the driver’s lifestyle, rather than set unrealistic expectations.

“From an emotional wellbeing point of view, it’s about people supporting people to make good choices and not to be too hard on themselves,” she says. “They can get there gradually through changing some of their habits.”

The 80/20 rule here applies according to Emma. If 80 per cent of the food we eat is healthy and minimally processed, 20 per cent can be a variety of ‘special’ foods we like as a treat.

It’s good news, no doubt, for fans of meat pies, providing it isn’t a dietary staple. Ultimately, small changes make a big difference.

For starters, cutting out soft drinks and drinking eight glasses of water every day, avoiding fried food, and choosing fresh fruit, vegetables and nut snacks.

Understanding that food should be used as fuel while driving to maintain energy levels and keep drivers alert is essential.

The long-term health benefits are clear. Adults who eat a healthy diet live longer and have a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

If Emma had a choice as to what people should remove from their daily diet to improve their health, it would be, without hesitation, soft drinks.

“I’ve seen myself how much it can improve physical wellbeing by just cutting out soft drinks,” she says. “That’s a good place to start. If we inspire drivers to make that kind of change, then Fuel Your Body has been a success.”

Viva Energy and Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics staff at the launch of Fuel Your Body.


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